The Mobilization of Cyber Monday


Consumers’ rapid adoption of engaging with e-commerce sites via mobile devices and transacting on them produced another strong Cyber Monday. On their biggest day of the year, Internet retailers saw mobile transactions increase by almost 28% and overall receipts go up 8.5%, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

Brick-and-mortar stores, by comparison, saw total sales drop 11% and average order size fall $26 to $380 on the first four days of the five-day retail bonanza that began on Thanksgiving. Average order size for online retailers fell, too, by 3.5% to $124.41, but their boats continued to rise in a growing sea of mobile shoppers.

“Individual spending has not increased online, but the baseline of Web shoppers gets bigger every year,” observes Jay Henderson, director of IBM Smarter Commerce, which produces the Digital Analytics Benchmark.

Mobile devices accounted for 41% of all online traffic yesterday, a 30% increase over 2013. More significant was the fact that 22% of total online purchases for Cyber Monday were transacted via mobile devices. Tablets still drove the majority of mobile purchases, accounting for 13% of that total. And Apple’s iOS is by far the most productive operating system for e-commerce sites, delivering about 17% of online sales to only 4% for Android.

For some online sellers like Rue La La, mobile had an even more dramatic effect on receipts this Cyber Monday. “For us, it’s mobile, mobile, mobile,” says Steve Davis, CEO of the flash Web retailer that posts specials on luxury fashion items every day at 11 a.m. “It’s off the charts. I’m astounded by how much the consumer has gravitated toward it. From Thanksgiving until Sunday, when people were off from work, our percentage of sales from mobile was over 60%. Yesterday it was over 50%.”

Because Rue La La is a membership site, its customer tends to be more engaged than that of the average shopper on a department store site. But the company’s experience could be an indicator of future mobile opportunity for all retailers. “People are getting more and more comfortable buying any item at any value. We made sales via mobile this weekend as high as $10,000,” says Davis, who also noted that purchases by device type at Rue La La ran counter to trend. Sixty percent of the company’s mobile transactions came from smartphones.

Email continues to be a Cyber Monday warhorse. Triggered emails reacting to consumer actions such as abandoned carts increased 48% over last year, IBM reports. People were more reactive than normal yesterday, with open rates hitting nearly 13% and click throughs reaching 2.2%. The percentage of mobile opens nearly rivaled desktop at 46%.

Among retail categories, home goods and department stores put in strong showings online yesterday. Sales for the former grew nearly 28%, with average orders rising by 11% to $247. An average order of $146 at general line chains represented a 10% decrease from 2013, but their total Web sales grew 18%, paced by mobile transactions that rose 21%.

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